Gender

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« What is gender after all? It seems to be something so fundamental for our current society that even pronouns are sorted by these criteria. And yet, I realized that despite that, and despite being queer, I didn't have a much better explanation than "It's a social construct and perhaps also some other things." »
Nathan, 21 (male)[1]

Gender refers to a social identity that generally corresponds to the binary sexes, male and female, though not always.[2] Many non-Western cultures have genders besides male and female, and there is a growing number of people even in Western society who identify as nonbinary or genderqueer. People who identify with their assigned gender at birth (AGAB) are referred to as cisgender; those who do not are referred to as transgender. People who identify as the other binary gender than what they were assigned at birth are sometimes called binary transgender; those who identify as something else are called nonbinary or genderqueer.[3]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word "gender" is derived from the Old French word "gendre", based on the Latin word "genus," meaning birth, family, or nation. Gender is also often used to denote grammatical categories of words.[2]

Relationship between sex and gender[edit | edit source]

« Gender is an evolution. Only in death and in objectification is it ever completely resolved. »
Anonymous, 26 (Genderfluid)[1]

Gender is generally assigned at birth based on the infant's genitalia. Infants with penises are assigned male and infants with vulvas are assigned female. Intersex infants with ambiguous genitalia are often subjected to surgery meant to give them the appearance of a dyadic (non-intersex) person. Then they are assigned a gender accordingly.[3]

The majority of people identify with their AGAB, but some do not. In Western society, this makes one transgender. In other cultures, specific gender identities besides male and female are available based on the person's AGAB, their relations to people of other genders, and other factors.[2] Some intersex people identify as intergender, a nonbinary identity that is tied to one's intersex status.

Transgender people often experience dysphoria, a dissatisfaction with or disconnect from things associated with their AGAB. This includes (but is not limited to) desires to have different sex characteristics. It is unclear how much of these desires are due to the conflation of sex and gender in society, and how much is inborn. The treatment for physical dysphoria is physical transition. Transition for trans women often involves hormone therapy with androgen blockers, estrogen, and/or progesterone;[4] voice training; facial reconstruction surgery; vaginoplasty; and/or hair removal techniques. Transition for trans men often involves hormone therapy with testosterone; top surgery (breast removal); and/or phalloplasty. Transgender children sometimes go on puberty blockers until they decide whether to undergo hormone therapy, to avoid going through undesirable physical changes during puberty.[5] Not all trans people choose to undergo all or any of these treatments, and nonbinary people may also undergo any number of these treatments. Some trans people choose to physically transition despite having no physical dysphoria in order to be socially recognized as the gender they are. This includes acknowledgement from friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, as well as legal documentation.[6]

Gender expression[edit | edit source]

Gender expression refers outwardly visible traits that are related to one's gender identity. This includes pronouns, clothes, hairstyle, movements, inflection, speech patterns, and more. People's gender expression generally functions to communicate that person's gender to others via similarities to other people of the same gender, but there are exceptions.[7] People whose gender expression differs from what is expected given their gender are called gender nonconforming. Sometimes transgender people have gender expressions similar to people of their AGAB because it is how they grew up presenting, and sometimes transgender people are closeted, and have a gender expression that specifically does not convey their gender to others. Many people simply enjoy playing with gender norms.

References[edit | edit source]